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Female students at the University of Manchester say a ‘deeply troubling’ pro-life society founded by a male president who ‘opposes abortion’ makes them ‘fear for their safety’


Female students at the University of Manchester say they’re fearing for their safety after a pro-life group was established in the student union.

The Manchester Pro Life Society, which was established on January 11, says it aims to ‘create a pro-life culture on campus, to engage students on life issues and promote respect for the dignity of human life from conception’.

However shortly after the society, which has a male president and male treasurer, was founded, a petition was opened to dissolve its activities – which has now racked up more than 16,000 signatures.

The petition, which was first posted by an anonymous student, says they are ‘deeply troubled by the potential harm that could be caused by our university’s Pro-Life Society’ and encourages people to sign it ‘if you believe every woman should have her right respected without fear or stigma within our university community’.

However, the University of Manchester’s student union has said the society was established within the rules of its society registration process.

A pro-life society set up at the University of Manchester with a male president (George Vincent, pictured) has attracted backlash

A pro-life society set up at the University of Manchester with a male president (George Vincent, pictured) has attracted backlash

The petition, posted on Change.org on February 12, claims the existence of the society ‘adds to an already prevalent stigma surrounding abortion, a legal right in our country’.

It adds: ‘Women at our university should not have to face additional pressure or judgement on such personal matters.’

As the anonymous writer implores people to sign the petition, they argue the society ‘has potential to cause distress among students who may require access to abortion services now or in future’.

The society’s president is George Vincent, a History of Art student who lists G.K Chesterton’s St Francis of Assisi as his ‘Desert Island Discs’ book that he would take with him if he found himself banished to a remote part of the world.

In October 2023, Vincent spoke to the Guardian about his pro-life views as he took part in an experiment where he had dinner with a man who holds different political opinions.

The society's treasurer is medical student Jacob Karinatan who says his 'Desert Island Discs' book is Lord of the Rings

The society’s treasurer is medical student Jacob Karinatan who says his ‘Desert Island Discs’ book is Lord of the Rings

The society's Instagram page claims the group's purpose is 'supporting the dignity of every human life'

The society’s Instagram page claims the group’s purpose is ‘supporting the dignity of every human life’

He said: I recognise how much pain there must be for a woman in that situation. But I don’t think an abortion solves that problem, it doesn’t make that trauma go away. 

‘We need to support them. And if that means adoption, we shouldn’t ostracise people for giving up their child.’

The society’s treasurer is Jacob Karinatan, a medicine student whose book of choice is Lord of the Rings.

On Monday, a female student at the University of Manchester told the Independent said the establishment of the society was like ‘the beginning of a Margaret Atwood novel’ and accused the student union of ‘enabling misogynistic hate speech’.

Heather Bowling, a second-year linguistics student, said: ‘The society has made me feel weak and inferior to my male counterparts. I’ve had endless messages from girls who fear for their safety.’

She further accused the SU of representing the interests of men who founded the society ahead of the many thousands who had signed the petition.

FEMAIL has contacted the University’s student union for comment.

Heather revealed she has spoken with women on campus who have had abortions in the past who say they now feel ‘personally victimised and threatened’ by the presence of the society.

Another student who has opted to have an abortion in the past recalled feelings of ‘guilt’ she experienced at the time which she said had been exacerbated by the things ‘people say’ about abortion.

While she acknowledged she believes in freedom of speech, she added: ‘I don’t see why men form anti-abortion groups when there are so many men’s issues they could work on.’

Amid backlash about the group’s ‘all-male’ origin, the Manchester Pro-Life Society announced on Tuesday that the committee had gained two new female members, Inge-Maria as its vice president and Lajoie as its diversity and inclusion officer.

Inge-Maria studies dental hygiene and therapy while Lajoie is studying children’s nursing.

As backlash builds against the society, a competing Instagram profile entitled ‘Stop Manchester Pro-Life’ has been established, which encourages people to organise and protest against the controversial society. 

It has organised what it describes as a ‘peaceful demonstration’ against the society on 29 of February – the same date the Pro-Life group has scheduled its first meeting.

It is unclear who started the Instagram account campaigning against the society, however the anonymous student who started the Change.org petition has clarified they are not the same person behind the Instagram account.

In a statement to FEMAIL, Manchester University’s Pro-Life society said: ‘The Pro-Life society exists to promote the wellbeing, and dignity of every human life, from conception. 

‘We are a positive society, one that exists first and foremost to help and support people at all stages of life. We exist to encourage students to think critically about the way we define and value human life.’

The statement continued to argue that its membership is diverse, with women playing a ‘crucial role’ in the society’s work. 

It added: We do however believe that these issues are relevant and important to people of either gender, they affect everyone. The right to life is not a gender-specific issue. It is also important to point out that we are not an anti-abortion society but a pro-life society. 

‘This means that while we oppose abortion, we are also concerned with other threats to life including assisted suicide, the death penalty, deaths occurring through poverty and poor living standards, structural issues in critical infrastructure such as the NHS, and climate change.’

The statement added the society will ‘promote a culture of life on campus’ through organising events and fundraising, as well as ‘campaigning for increased support for students who are pregnant or parenting from the University, Student’s Union, and the Government’.

The society also claimed its members and supporters have been subjected to ‘hate’ which it has denounced.

‘We hope that we can have reasonable and dignified conversations with everyone moving forward so we can create a better campus and society, one where everyone is valued and respected,’ it concluded.  

The society did not specify who had directed ‘hate’ towards its members – however an edit to the Change.org petition stressed the purpose of the movement was ‘in no way calling for any harassment or intimidation of the members/committee of the Pro-Life society personally’.



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